After a welcome thaw in US-Cuba relations, much about the island 90 miles from the Florida Keys is once again uncertain.
Hurricane Irma inflicted severe damage. Mysterious illnesses have afflicted American embassy personnel in Havana. President Trump has pledged to roll back President Obama’s policies of openness.
Which, says Maite Hernandez, makes this the perfect time to visit.
The Westporter’s parents were born in Cuba. When Fidel Castro took over, they fled to Miami. They soon moved to Puerto Rico, which reminded them of home.
Maite grew up among her parents’ Cuban friends. She learned to love their food, and heard stories about their homeland.
In 1997, she and her siblings visited Cuba for the first time. She felt like she was home. She met cousins who had never left the island. Immediately, it felt as if they’d grown up together.
She returned twice, in 2011 and 2013. Every time she leaves, she feels as if a piece of her heart remains.
Westporters are curious to learn more about Cuba. They’re fascinated by what they hear: the 1950s cars, the art nouveau and art deco architecture, the beautiful beaches.
They tell Maite they want to visit before things change. Yet, she says, they don’t know how to go there, or have concerns about political implications.
She has an easy answer. Her brother Sixto is the founder of Cuba Travel & Scouting; she’s the Northeast representative. Utilizing family connections, the company offers tours that don’t adhere to government-imposed choices of sites, hotels and restaurants. Each tour focuses on Cuba’s rich history, natural beaaty and architectural wonders.
Westporters who have traveled to Cuba appreciate the experience. Emily Blaikie calls it “one of the most magical places I have ever been. The people are lovely. So are the sights and sounds. And the food is delicious.”
“06880”‘s tagline is “Where Westport meets the world.” Maite Hernandez wants her neighbors and friends here to know that — despite all the bad news recently — a wonderful world awaits them, just a short plane ride away.